The line-up of the most talked about non-fiction films from the past year have been announced for the 21st Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, with South Africa's breakout documentary film, Stroop, which is a journey into the rhino horn war, among the contenders selected, organisers of the festival said this week.
Fresh from the world's leading festivals, Encounters will be screening 2019's most acclaimed documentaries and the multi award-winning wildlife crime film will be among them.
"All the films speak cinematically about highly charged issues for South African audiences," says festival director Mandisa Zitha, "and we have the privilege of seeing this year's top-rated documentaries, each of them breaking new ground in non-fiction filmmaking."
Stroop director Susan Scott is ecstatic about the official selection saying: “I have been going to Encounters for as long as I can remember and I have watched absolutely phenomenal films that the selection team scoured the planet for and brought back to South Africa.
"This is really the way to see these powerful films - on the big screen and in the darkness of a theatre. Those films have had a huge impact on me and have stayed with me for many years. So to have Stroop selected for Encounters is just an incredible honour, and I’m thrilled the film gets another round of theatrical screenings for the South African public.”
Adds producer and presenter Bonné de Bod: "We’ve been to so many film festivals in the US and Europe, where the film has had an overwhelming reception, so to bring it back home for our continent’s most prestigious documentary festival is just wonderful. Not only for the film, but also so important for our rhino crisis which is causing the world to sit up and take notice at last.”
Encounters is Stroop's first African film festival after its whirlwind international run where it was officially selected for 26 film festivals, winning 17 awards around the globe. Encounters will be held from June 6 to 16, with the festival organisers allocating Stroop five screenings, three at Cape Town's Labia Theatre, one at Ster-Kinekor’s Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank, Johannesburg, and a free community screening at the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education.
The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival is the premier documentary festival in Africa and one of the oldest film festivals on the continent.
Encounters takes place annually in Cape Town and Johannesburg during the month of June. In 2012, the festival attracted 11,000 audience members and close to a quarter of a million attendees have attended during its lifespan. Question and answer sessions with the filmmakers, which are open to public, usually take place after the screenings.
Stroop was an independent undertaking by Scott and de Bod who self-funded and crowdfunded through the public, and later received post-production grants to help them finish the film. Since its world premiere at the San Francisco Green Film Festival in September last year, the film has been officially selected for 26 film festivals, winning 17 awards and has been picked up by the London-based Journeyman Pictures for international distribution. The filmmakers are in talks with local broadcasters and hope to have the film on South African television soon.
Winning 17 awards and officially selected for 26 film festivals, the film takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride between Africa and Asia. These first time filmmakers embed themselves on the front-lines of the rhino poaching crisis where they are given exclusive access to the war unfolding. Carving out six months for the project, the two women quickly find themselves immersed in a world far larger and more dangerous than they had imagined, only emerging from their odyssey four years later.